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Teaching an 8-years old child who has been diagnosed with autism

The practice is about teaching a 8-year old child who has been diagnosed with autism. The teaching sessions are concerned with the subject Bulgarian language and literature. There are two sessions of 35 minutes each, every week, scheduled for Monday and Thursday.

The teaching has been carried out for two school years now. In the beginning, the child was not used to me, the teacher, and the mother was present during the lessons, which was not necessary after some time and she did not attend the classes anymore. The child was very often ill – during the first year, when the child was in the first grade, he was absent from 1/3 (one third) of the classes, for medical reasons. During the current school year, 2017/2018, the child was absent from ¼ of the classes included in the individual teaching programme.

Achievements during the two school years: the child can produce in writing letters, syllables and short words if he gets physical support from the teacher by holding his hand. He recognizes the written symbol of all the vowels and consonants in the Alphabet. He can differentiate between block letters and handwritten letters; he can arrange word-prompts into sentences; he recognizes punctuation symbols – full stop, comma, question mark. The child can match a picture or a photo to their names/titles, pronounces well and intelligible more than twenty new words during the last school year and also attempts to pronounce three-syllable words, following my examples.

Additional Info

Included in school/society, Pupil well-being, Independent/life skills
Students age range:
Curriculum area:
Not related
Year period:
Any moment
Step by step description, including actions to be developed for preparation and implementation:
The child feels calm during the individual lessons at school. Communication with the adults is non-verbal, aimed at satisfying basic needs, whereas with the peers it is completely missing. The pronunciation of sounds is not correct. He works with visual materials only and can handle activities with toys. He can follow simple instructions. The child can draw with a sample model, can choose from pictures, can use glue, demonstrates reluctance when drawing and colouring. The child has difficulty when instructed to imitate sounds produced by animals, vehicles or sounds produced in the household. The child cannot pronounce vowels or consonants but differentiates between them; can recognize the place of sounds, as well as identifies words that begin with a particular sound. The child has not got skills for the correct pronunciation of vowels; recognizes the graphic symbols on an empirical level; differentiates letters from other symbols and signs. The child cannot read in syllables. It can match a letter to a picture, capital letters to small ones, a phoneme to its graphic analogue. He can solve a puzzle of syllables and words. The child has a correct hold of the fingers when writing, but the hand is loose and idle. He has a very short concentration span when doing a task, easily gets absent-minded and prefers a quick change of the activities. Work with the child during the school year 2016/2017 and continued throughout the current 2017/2018 year. I teach the child Bulgarian language and literature. The sessions take place twice a week, lasting for 35 minutes each, always on Mondays and Thursdays. The student cannot hold a pen or pencil firmly in the hand so I have to support him. During the lessons we do consecutive activities, writing and reading, which in our case comprises the following: we look together at the page in the textbook relating to a particular letter, then I read all the printed words on the page, then the child makes an attempt to pronounce some of the easier words that contain one to three syllables at the most – it is easier for him to pronounce open syllables, such as “ma-ma”. When writing the elements of the letters I have to support his hand because, although correctly positioned, it is loose and has no firm catch. For one lesson we manage to complete one page in the workbook. The child’s hand gets easily tired and every two lines completed with written letters require a short break. We reproduce words from the textbook which begin with the letter which is being studied, relate the word to a picture and arrange words which begin with a common letter into groups. In the beginning, the student could only concentrate on the work for 5-6 minutes during the whole lesson. Gradually, in the process of our work together, the student got used to me and accepted me, according to his mother, and we increased the time spent on studying, step by step. The child concentrated initially for 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25 consecutive minutes, reaching finally 30-35 minutes of concentration and conscious work, without being absent minded; the child stopped standing up during the lesson, running to the door, sometimes screaming and hitting his head. What I consider my biggest achievement in our communication is the fact that since March 2018, every time we enter the classroom, the child embraces me and enjoys my company. The mother claims that this behaviour of the child is only typical when he communicates with his closest family and relatives – mother, father, sister and one of the grandmothers. Besides, since last March, whenever we start our lesson, the child points to a word which he considers interesting from the list of the new words in the lesson, and listens with pleasure to my explanations about the word. He enjoys being told short stories or when I say a rhyme related to the word we are currently working on. During our last lesson for this school year, which his mother also attended, the child burst into laughter when he saw a funny picture in a book. His mother explained that she had heard him laughing in this way no more than ten times until that day. This is very important and rewarding for me, because it gives me hope that our work will be even more successful during the next school year.
Resources to be used, including human resources, materials and spaces:
Workbook for writing the letters, textbook, books, flashcards with the letters, picture alphabet, words lotto, electronic textbook, picture tables, puzzles.
Difficulties found while implementing it:
Lack of attention, difficulties in concentrating, short concentration span. 1. Training for teachers specialists in Primary school pedagogy, to work with children with special needs. 2. Financing from the Ministry of Education for setting up a special classroom for carrying out teaching of students with special needs.
The official webpage for the good practice:
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